Archives for October 24, 2003

Insured a big drain on emergency rooms ?!?

Medpundit commented on this, and it seemed too good to be true. The original article seems to have been written from an alternate dimension: | Business | Insured a big drain on emergency rooms

People with insurance are increasingly using emergency rooms, even for non-urgent care, a new study found — perplexing experts who believed the uninsured were the chief reason for emergency room overcrowding.

Emergency room visits jumped to an average total of 107.7 million in 2001 and 2000, up 16.3 percent from 1996 and 1997. Most of the increase came from insured patients, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change, a Washington-based think tank.

Privately insured patients’ use of the emergency room rose 24.3 percent to 43.3 million visits over that six-year period. People covered by Medicare, the government insurance for the elderly, visited the ER 16 million times, a 10 percent increase. Visits by uninsured patients rose 10.3 percent to 18 million, while those by patients covered by Medicaid, the government program for the poor, were flat at 18.4 million.

Now, on what planet are patients with Insurance a “drain”? My ED actively works to get that exact demographic (people with insurance) to come to us for care.

I don’t think people come to any ED for the ‘glamor’, even the nicest I’ve been in wasn’t a place I’d spend time voluntarily.

The reason people come to ED’s is because we’re too good for our own good. We work in an embarrasingly resource-rich environment, able to get the vast majority of common tests done within a few hours, and come up with an answer, or at least exclude life threats.

It’s a convenience issue, all right. I wonder when CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act) kicked in, and docs were basically put out of the office-lab business. (Read that page and see if you’d have a lab in your office. Docs aren’t kidding when they scream about excessive regulation).